Children's Foot Care
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And when your baby takes his or her first steps, they’re beginning a journey in which their feet will carry them more than 100,000 miles.
But are they getting started on the right foot?
Unfortunately, foot and ankle problems aren’t restricted to older adults with decades of wear and tear. Many serious foot conditions can emerge in childhood, and without proper treatment can lead to repercussions that will follow your little one well into adulthood.
But the good news is that, if caught early, most of these conditions can be easily corrected before they cause any significant trouble for your child. And at the Community Foot Clinic of McPherson, our team is always happy to help ensure your child’s feet and ankles are healthy, pain free, and developing on schedule!
Common Children’s Foot Conditions
A child’s feet are structurally and developmentally very different from an adult’s feet. Their bones are no more rigid than soft, flexible cartilage until around age 7, and don’t fully harden and mature in most cases until well into the teenage years.
This means that they are susceptible to different kinds of conditions and injuries than adults—and even when the conditions are similar, the treatment approach may need to be quite different.
Some of the most common foot conditions in childhood that we treat include:
- Flat feet. You may be surprised that most kids don’t show a permanent arch until around age 5, as the supporting muscles and tendons aren’t strong enough to hold the arch in place (especially when bearing weight.) Although this usually self-corrects, it’s best to take your child in if you are concerned or they show signs of pain. Rarely, there may be a more serious cause (such as a fusion of hindfoot bones or neuromuscular condition) that needs more aggressive intervention.
- In-toeing and out-toeing. Take a look at your child’s feet when they stand and walk. Are they pointed straight ahead, or do the toes point inward or outward? In-toeing in particular is especially common in young children, and does often self-correct. However, once again it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if your child displays signs of pain, difficulty walking, frequent tripping, etc.
- Ingrown toenails. Although ingrown toenails can affect people of all ages, kids are especially likely to develop them. Often this may be a result of outgrowing their shoes too quickly, improper nail trimming, or simply just a genetically inherited predisposition for them. We provide fast, easy, and painless office treatments that will have your little one feeling much better in no time.
- Plantar warts. As with ingrown toenails, warts can develop on people of all ages. But kids are the most common demographic, due to underdeveloped immune systems and a propensity for playing barefoot. Warts can be very embarrassing for a little one, and sometimes even painful. We have several safe, comfortable options to help remove them.
- Sports injuries. Kids who are active are prone to all kinds of lower limb sports injuries, including ankle sprains, broken toes, and a form of heel pain unique to children and adolescents known as Sever’s disease. It’s important that you take your child off the field and get them the professional care they need as soon as possible. If injuries do not have an opportunity to heal properly, damaged joints may develop chronic pain, instability, and post-traumatic arthritis.
We understand kids can be nervous about seeing the doctor, so we do everything we can to make their appointment as comfortable and comforting as possible. We also have specialized training in handling childhood foot conditions, so you can rest assured that your little one is in good hands here.
What to Watch For: Child Foot Care Tips for Parents
As a parent, it’s up to you to make sure your child’s feet are healthy, protected, and developing normally. Here are a few tips on what you should expect, and how you should handle the unexpected.
- A young child’s feet grow at an incredible rate. If their socks or garments appear restrictive, opt for the next larger size. Don’t go too large though: the garment should only be a quarter of an inch longer than their longest toe.
- Bathe and inspect children’s feet daily. Look for problem areas – young feet are flexible and less sensitive to injury or areas of pressure and friction.
- Toenails should be trimmed straight across, so that they are even with the tip of the toe.
- Foot muscles need time to strengthen and develop. A baby’s broad, flat feet are designed to function barefoot. Until your child is ready to walk outside, shoes are unnecessary.
- When buying shoes, select a good quality, leather pair. Monitor the wear and tear of the shoe and keep them clean at all times. Replace footwear with a larger size as soon as necessary.
- See a trained specialist if determining your child’s shoe size is an issue. Never rush a shoe purchase.
- Many foot problems, such as gait abnormalities, can be easily corrected when discovered early. If a child’s toes point inward or outward while walking, he or she will develop weakened feet and body alignment issues. Teach your children to keep their toes straight. If their legs bow or their knees knock, seek professional care.
Foot health begins at birth and continues for a lifetime. Be sure your children’s feet are getting the care they deserve.
If you notice an issue, no matter how small, seek podiatric medical care immediately. Early treatment is always best for pediatric foot care.
And at the Community Foot Clinic of McPherson, our team is happy to help. We love working with kids—it’s one of Dr. Timson’s specialties—and will be sure to give your little one the dedicated attention they deserve, with a gentle and compassionate touch.